PURI: Swabhimaan Divas celebration took an ugly turn here on Thursday when four activists were detained while staging demonstration demanding to make Odia the official language. They were demanding that Odia should be used in publicity materials and for ads on display boards, both by the Government and the private agencies.
Sources said Krushna Jagdev, convener of Pujya Pooja Sansad, accompanied by some activists, painted English signboards of Government and private organisations black in the morning. They also blackened some signboards carrying public safety messages that were fixed by the police. Subsequently, police rounded them up.
Receiving the news, lawyers, who were observing Swabhimaan Divas in Puri Bar Association office, rushed to the site and had a heated exchange of words with the police. Protesting the police action, Bar Association president Premananda Mohanty said the demand by Pujya Pooja Sansad members was genuine.
After the lawyers’ tussle with the police, more cops arrived at the spot and took Jagdev, Digambar Patra, the district chief of Odia Bhasa Surkhya Parishad, Debendra Tarei and social worker Sanjay Pradhan to the police station.
The agitators said the police action was unwarranted. They further said that the State was formed on language basis and Government should come forward to promote the language. However, the Government was doing the job half-heartedly. They alleged that though the State Government has announced to implement Orissa Official Language Act, 1954 after a statewide agitation, no steps were taken in this regard.
Jagdev said people who are doing business in Odisha should use the native language on their display boards. He said the State Government should immediately declare Odia as official language and direct authorities to use it in all official communications to bridge the gap between people and the Government.